GUEST COLUMN: Unforeseen consequences of COVID-19

GUEST COLUMN: Unforeseen consequences of COVID-19

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David Fredrick NEW


We now have about 70,000 dead from COVID in the U.S. People are impatient with the lack of a solution and with being unable to consume stuff freely and constantly. It is tough for a culture that tends to be materialistic and literal. I am not immune. There have been some hours when I was a bit bored. Not for long. We who have short attention spans learned how to construct life positively. We bought some plants and now have our “kitchen” garden functioning, with mint, basil, rosemary, parsley and dill growing. I walk daily perhaps two miles in the hills and forests of our neighborhood. I read the Waverly newspapers, the Waterloo Courier and Washington Post, and grow weary of the total coverage by print and other media about COVID.

For many people, COVID is a plot to make life miserable for Americans; some say it is God’s will; some say it is another flu variety; some say more die from starvation in the world every day; some say it is not as bad as measles or polio. Maybe it is a symptom of the growing struggle between the U.S. and China for world domination. While this symptom takes center stage, China is arresting good people in Hong Kong and taking over the South China Sea with military presence and control. There has been little or no progress on resolving the trade war between China and the U.S.

We can’t make protective gowns and masks in sufficient quantity to take care of our own people. We can’t make the medicines we need and depend upon. Iran can make atomic bombs again. The twerp in North Korea is shooting off rockets. So, it seems we are on the slippery slope of decline, with a conspicuous shortage of leadership. One of many exceptions does seem to be the work of some of our governors, attacking the problem with available resources. Do we need to be worried about the current state of affairs? I am not sure. There will be unforeseen consequences.

Grandpa Walter Henry August Fredrick was born on the Fourth of July, 1894, a second generation American. His grandfather came to America in 1852. Walter loved horses and was a blacksmith as well as a farmer. He married Grandma Bertha Rose Imlau in December 1917. He was drafted into the Army in July 2018 and went immediately to Georgia to serve as a Wagoneer in the U.S. Army, a front lines task. His stationing to Europe was delayed by the Spanish flu outbreak in March 1918, and the war ended on Nov. 11, 2018. He was discharged January 1919. His only son, my dad, Walter Fredrick Jr. was born October 1918.

Do the math. It was a miracle that Grandpa got married before being drafted, another miracle that Dad was conceived and born. Another that Grandpa was saved by the Spanish flu from front line action. My parents, Walter and Jean Fredrick, grew up in the depression, saved by Dad’s parents and extended family and Mom’s dad having been appointed as a postman during the last week of President Hoover’s term, an appointment that made a healthy and secure life possible for Mom and her five siblings and thence for me. And then there was World War II, with all the insecurity for most Americans. I have my parents’ last rationing book and this one memento focuses for me the urgency of life then for all of us. Then, I did not get drafted for the undeclared Vietnam War, due to steel pins in my hip, coming from a childhood accident.

My good friend, Paul Striepe, did get drafted and died there three months after arrival. No matter what the table of life sets for each of us, it is some hard work and mostly good timing and luck that keeps our genes in the pool. We do not know how the catastrophe of COVID-19 will work through each of our lives. Hard work is required to meet daily needs with limited social contact, to develop COVID tests and vaccines and to educate and care for future generations.

But then again, maybe I am just an unforeseen consequence, and that is nothing to be sneezed at.

David Fredrick of Waverly is a retired diplomat and college employee.


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